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Washington's self-claimed relative held for French on assault charges

A man who claims to be a direct descendent of George Washington's favorite brother will remain behind bars after a federal magistrate judge refused Monday to dismiss assault charges filed in the French resort of St. Tropez.

John Augustine Washington V, who was arrested Dec. 18 at a temporary residence at Chautauqua Institution, is being held without bail pending a request by French authorities to extradite him for trial.

He is accused of smashing a vodka bottle against the head of Colin Hall, an American citizen, July 24 while the two were in a St. Tropez nightclub. Hall spent several weeks in a coma, authorities said, while Washington left the country.

Washington waived his appearance during a hearing Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio, who listened to Washington's attorney, Amy Martoche, describe the French government's accusations as lacking.

Washington, an Oxford University student who is 43, is about as far removed from his ancestor George as the generations between them.

Born in Washington, D.C., the long-distant nephew claims Malibu, Calif., as his home and describes himself as music writer-producer and owner of the Internet Web site

A photo on his Web site shows Washington in a pair of sunglasses and a T-shirt picturing George Washington wearing a similar pair of shades.

"A lot of what we know about George Washington is because of letters he wrote to John Augustine," he writes on his Web site. "That would be John Augustine the First; I am John Augustine the Fifth. So I'm a direct descendant of George's brother, his favorite brother actually."

George Washington counted France as a valued ally during the Revolutionary War. The French government wants his brother's descendent brought back to France to stand trial on charges that could land him in prison for up to five years.

An international arrest warrant for Washington was issued July 27 in Nice, France.

U.S. marshals found him staying at Chautauqua Institution and arrested him as he walked to his car.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana obtained Washington's provisional arrest, pending extradition, after French authorities said Washington had been identified as the man who bludgeoned Hall, 35, a U.S. banker living in London.

Martoche, Washington's attorney, argued that Foschio had no probable cause to order the original arrest and asked him to dismiss the charges.

Foschio let the charges stand and kept Washington in jail. Campagna said the French government has 40 more days to file formal extradition papers.


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